In the past, travelling to China required serious planning. In order to enter the country, travellers need to have a visa, which added expense and paperwork to the process. Today, however, it is possible to enjoy short trips to the capital city of Beijing without a visa. This is a great opportunity, and it opens the door to visitors who are just interested in briefly seeing the city while passing through Asia on a holiday or even on business. As of the first day of 2013, passengers on international flights from many major countries like the United States and the UK can now travel without a visa for up 72 hours, but their trips are limited to stays in Beijing and Shanghai. If you have 72 hours or less to spend in Beijing, there are the things that you absolutely won’t want to miss.
Tour the Forbidden City: If you only get to see one thing while in Beijing, you will want it to be the Forbidden City. This incredible historical attraction is almost completely untouched from the days of the Ming and Qing dynasties, and you could spend days walking through the various courtyards and exploring the many temples, palaces and official buildings on the site. If you are pressed for time, be sure to at least pop into the Palace Museum, which boasts an incredible collection of ancient Chinese artifacts and royal memorabilia.
See Tienanmen Square: This square is the largest public plaza in the world, and it was built by Chairman Mao as a symbol of the capital city. While it has national significance to Chinese residents, many travellers are most familiar with the Tienanmen Square Massacre in 1989. Today, the square is a meeting place for locals, it boasts amazing statues and memorials and it is home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, the Chinese National Museum, the Monument to the People’s Heroes and the impressive Tienanmen gates.
See the Great Wall: A common misconception about the Great Wall of China is that it is in Beijing itself. In reality, the closest sections of the wall are about 90 minutes away by bus or taxi. The nearest section of the wall is called Badaling, and it can be crowded. However, those who have the time may want to include this incredible landmark on their itinerary. Expect to spend at least an hour admiring the views from the wall and walking on portions of it.
Dine on Authentic Chinese Cuisine: A trip to Beijing, no matter how short, should include as many traditional Chinese dishes as possible. For a quick meal on the go, order dumplings by weight from the Oriental Dumpling King. Other local favourites include Peking roast duck, savoury scallion pancakes, rice porridge called congee for breakfast and mutton hotpot. If you want to experience something very unusual, head to the Donghuamen Night Market for fried scorpions and silkworms.
Thanks to the new travel regulations, it is possible to enjoy short trips in Beijing while en route to your final destination. This itinerary can help make the most of your stay in China.
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